Philippians – 4 Joy-Levels
As born-again, Spirit-filled Christians, joy needs to be high on our list of must-have’s! In the Nine Fruits of the Spirit, JOY is SECOND (Gal 2:22-23). God’s whole amazing Kingdom is defined in three words, and “Joy” is one of those words:
For the Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit.Romans 14:17
Our Joy-Level should be steadily going higher. It should NOT be one goes up and down depending on our circumstances. Neither should it spring up quickly and then wither away during times of trial:
And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing, fall away.Luke 8:13
Instead, trials should only widen and deepen our rivers of joy:
Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity and inner peace].James 1:2-3 (Amplified)
Our Joy-Level and Peace-Level reveals the level of maturity in our FAITH:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you may abound in hope.Romans 15:13
In Philippians, “joy” is used 5 times, and rejoice is used 10 times. However, Philippians is not a teaching about joy. Instead, it’s just a joyous letter because of what Paul is writing about and who he is writing to. That’s how joy works. You don’t analyze it and figure it out. Joy is just what forms on the branches when the tree is healthy.
Let’s study this truth in Philippians chapter by chapter.
PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER ONE:
JOY in the GOSPEL
Gospel means “good news.” It is mentioned 8x in Philippians – more than any other epistle. The Philippians did not just “receive” the Gospel, they had “Fellowship” – a committed relationship – with the Gospel, and that filled Paul with joy:
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine, making request for you all with JOY, for your fellowship in the GOSPEL from the first day until now.Philippians 1:3-5 (NKJV)
In his joy, Paul tells of the confidence he has because of their intimacy with the Gospel:
Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.Philippians 1:6 (NKJV)
Good News can raise anyone’s Joy-Level! As Christians, we have the most wonderful Good News of all time and eternity: the Gospel! Knowing the “pit” from which we have been “dug” (Isaiah 51:1; Psalm 40:1-3; Psalm 86:13), and knowing the great salvation Jesus purchased for us, what else could we possibly need to raise our Joy-Levels?
Taking time to remember what the Gospel has done for us and sharing this Gospel with others is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophetic song about the joy we receive when we “draw water from the wells of salvation.”
And in that day you will say:Isaiah 12:1-3 (NKJV)
“O Lord, I will praise You;
Though You were angry with me,
Your anger is turned away, and You comfort me.
Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust and not be afraid;
For YAH, the Lord, is my strength and song;
He also has become my salvation.
Therefore WITH JOY you will draw water
From the wells of salvation.
PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER TWO:
JOY in FELLOWSHIP
FELLOWSHIP – The New Testament Greek word for “Fellowship” is “Koinonia,” which carries the much more profound meaning of the committed and loyal “unto death” partnership – a covenantal relationship similar to marriage.
In His Eternal Purpose, God commissions and sets us in different places within the Body of Christ together with others who have similar assignments from God. As we yield to God’s purpose, there is a love from God that the Holy Spirit “pours out in our hearts” (Rom 5:5) for Jesus and those called to the same work. That love gives birth to loyal partnership and sacrificial commitment between those members – and that’s the “Koinonia” fellowship which Paul refers to as the “Fellowship of the Spirit” –
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any FELLOWSHIP [“koinonia”] of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.Philippians 2:1-2
God designed us for fellowship. God said that it is NOT GOOD for man to be alone. That, of course, was why Eve was created, but God created man for fellowship, firstly with Himself and then with others.
There is JOY in fellowship, especially when we have the “mind of Christ” towards one another:
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.Philippians 2:4-7 (NKJV)
Let THIS MIND be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
Consider a bit more about the “mind of Christ.” It was because of the JOY set before Him, that Jesus endured the Cross. What joy? The joy of seeing us become His people, His Bride – for Fellowship and Love Affair for all eternity!
Someone came up with this acronym years ago:
J = Jesus
O = Others
Y = You
There exists no recipe for joy greater than this! It’s a recipe that only works when God’s people work together – that’s God’s purpose for the Church!
PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER THREE:
JOY in Knowing and Loving JESUS
In Philippians, the word “Jesus” is used 21x, “Christ” is used 38x, and “God” is used 22x. In chapter three, Paul focuses on the JOY of his love affair with Jesus Christ! It is one thing to love Jesus because of what He has done for us, but it is quite another level to love Him for who He is.
Song of Solomon is all about the Bride’s absolute love for the Bridegroom. When asked why she was so “love sick” over her Beloved, listen to the joy bubbling in the Bride’s immediate response:
What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us?Song of Songs 5:9,10,16
My beloved is white and ruddy, the CHIEFEST among ten thousand…
His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.
Paul’s love rantings ring out just as sweet on Jesus:
But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.Philippians 3:7-14
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
And be found in Him…
That I may know Him…
If, by any means…
But I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me…
…but one thing I do…
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Then he continues by encouraging all the church members to have that same attitude about knowing and loving Jesus. For any who don’t, he encourages them: “God will reveal it to you” (Phil 3:15).
Paul then ends this chapter talking about the blessed hope we have at the coming of the Lord:
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,Philippians 3:20-21
Who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
PHILIPPIANS CHAPTER FOUR:
JOY in GIVING out of CONTENTMENT
“Rejoice… and again I say, ‘Rejoice’” (Phil 4:4). Now in this last chapter, the Apostle Paul continues bubbling over with joy! In verse 10, he says that he rejoiced “greatly,” which in Greek is literally “megalos,” which is where we get the word “mega.” So Paul now has “Mega-Joy”!
In this world, joy is usually the emotion related to obtaining something. Just consider the TV commercials of the Christmas “joy” experienced by opening a gift (the sponsor’s product). Or the joy of driving that brand new car off the dealer’s lot. Or the joy of a child who grabs the toy from a Happy Meal (and leaves the meal untouched). Those familiar candid clips are all about the joy of something received.
However, here in chapter four, Paul explains that contentment with thanksgiving is the key to living in true joy. Wow, how different that is, right?
He begins by explaining that thanksgiving is the secret key in prayer. Prayer is the absolute antidote for anxiety, keeping our heart and mind in perfect peace (instead of “pieces”):
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.Philippians 4:6-8 (ESV)
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Next, Paul gives a description of his contentment:
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.Philippians 4:11-13 (ESV)
I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Paul’s exhortation about contentment was to accentuate the Philippians’ generosity in giving to the needs of others. Paul explains:
Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.Philippians 4:17-18 (NKJV)
Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God.
Contentment is a breeding ground for a great harvest of joy in our lives. And generosity out of that joy is a sweet fragrance unto the Lord – one that He will quickly reward as Paul indicates with this promise of bountifulness:
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:19 (NKJV)
So here we have it – four chapters of joy:
Chapter 1 – Joy in the Gospel
Chapter 2 – Joy in Fellowship with Others
Chapter 3 – Joy in Knowing and Loving Jesus
Chapter 4 – Joy in Giving out of Contentment
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!Philippians 4:4 (NKJV)